Summary: Jesus promised that we will join him in Heaven
O Lord Jesus, You chose the Cross as the path to glory to show us the way of salvation. May we receive the word of the Gospel joyfully and live by Your example as heirs and citizens of Your Kingdom. Amen.
We just heard in the Gospel reading that a group of Greeks approached Philip and Andrew, saying
"Sir, we wish to see Jesus." (John 12:21)
At this time in history, Greeks were considered ‘gentiles’ – outcasts, non-religious, non-Jews, and aliens. Up to this time, the ministry of Jesus and His disciples had not included the gentiles – only those of Jewish faith. So, these Greeks, to have come to Jerusalem during the Feast of the Passover, was an unusual occurrence – and even more unusual was that they asked to see Jesus, for they had heard of Him. Why were they even interested in meeting this controversial Jewish man?
In His usual welcoming manner, Jesus instructed Philip and Andrew to bring the Greeks to him. Now, this was yet another instance where Jesus violated the societal laws – He was often speaking with non-Jews, or heathens. Jesus was always breaking all the rules. We hear nothing about these Greeks once they are taken to Jesus, but they serve as a segue to Jesus’ teachings about the inclusion of ALL in his Kingdom.
In Matthew 10:32-33, we are told:
"Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven."
This is just another example of John making it very clear that Jesus drew all kinds of people to Him, and to God.
I believe that all of us sitting here today, are little like those Greeks, - we are searching for Jesus. We search in our own personal studies, by coming to church, through meditations and prayer, either alone or with other people. We yearn our whole lives to get to know Jesus better. We strive to understand who He had to suffer for, even though we are told that He is the Son of God, that God sent Him to save His creation.
Why the suffering?
Why the struggles?
Why the meanness?
Why the betrayal?
I grew up in the Catholic Church and I can remember as a young child, looking at the crucifix hanging over the altar with the broken, bloody body of Jesus on it, wondering what horrible things I must have done to cause Jesus to be murdered for my sins. I never could wrap my little mind around that, but I took comfort in knowing that through His death, I was forgiven of all my sins and when I died, by the promise of Jesus:
“when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself." (John 12:32).
I didn’t understand it, but I believed, somehow, it was true, and it gave me comfort.
We also heard in Jeremiah that God
will make a new covenant with the people (Jeremiah 31:31)
No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, (Jeremiah 31:34)
This is the promise of the Judeo-Christian covenant: that we will always be children of God, never to be forgotten. And we will take our rightful place with Jesus for eternity.
As I have grown older, I find I am more and more drawn to Jesus, the Son of Man - that Jesus became, in a short time, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by all who knew Him or followed Him - someone in whom many believed that they, too, suffered and died and would not deny Him. But I still associate most with Jesus, the Son of Man – whose one solitary life changed the world forever.
Many of you may know this prose poem by Dr. James Allan Francis, but I cannot read it enough – I want to share it with you.
One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village the child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him
He never wrote a book, he never held an office, he never went to college
He never visited a big city, he never traveled more than two hundred miles
From the place he was born, he did none of the things usually associated
With greatness, he had no credentials but himself, he was only thirty three
His friends ran away, one of them denied him, he was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial, then nailed to a cross between two thieves
While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing